Two Colorado Festivals Make Big Green Claims / by Jason

My inbox has been filling up recently with press releases about new festivals--it seems like there isn't a weekend this summer that doesn't have at least one major event, and many weekends have several competing. One thing all these festivals have in common (besides Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, who are making the rounds this year and are simply not to be missed) is the desire to be seen as green.

My most recent round of green-leaning festivals includes these two from Colorado. Up first is Monolith, a festival I wasn't very nice to last year for their "reforestation program," among other things. I said it then and I'll say it now: seven trees planted is not "reforestation." It's tree planting, and not that many trees, either. It's a nice gesture, but I think that the organizers spent more energy touting their reforestation program than they did actually planting the trees. But since I wrote that in the days before I had started interviewing festivals and doing on-site spot checks, I guess I'll give them another shot to be green this year. But I'll play Steven Colbert here: Monolith, I'm putting you on notice! You've got a solid lineup and a fantastic venue--you can really shine by turning Red Rocks green, and not just for your weekend but for all the future events held there. Don't let us down!

Switching from alt-rock to bluegrass, Planet Bluegrass is promoting itself as a big green player this year, too. Hopefully they will have more to offer than the offsets and waste reduction their website focuses on. Judging by the really in-depth coverage they give to those two issues, I'd guess that there is more going on behind the scenes. Planet Bluegrass looks like they're doing a good job of thinking through the issues, although it would be nice to see a bit more about their other efforts. If all they're doing is waste reduction and offsetting, I'd say they're just scratching the surface.

The Planet Bluegrass site has a great overview of the difficulties that arise from trying to go green with something as seemingly innocuous as a beer cup. The cup thing is probably one of the biggest struggles for all green festival promoters and they do a good job explaining why it's so hard. The site also has a good description of the concept of offsets and shows their progress over the last few years to where they are now, which includes offsetting all of their fans' travel. I'm still not a fan of offsets, but it appears they're here to stay and it's more than a token gesture to spend that kind of money on offsets.

Anyway, those of you lucky enough to be high in the Rocky Mountains, enjoy your green festivals this year. Here's some Sharon Jones to take it home.